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Viva prep / thesis-phobia

So, I submitted my thesis and was obsessed with prepping for my viva. Had to stop prepping and calm down as I didn't even have a date and due to current situations it was delayed.

Now I have a date, Oct 6th. I can't even think about it, I can't bare to pick up my thesis.

I have to go through family court again, very bad memories, and I'm representing myself
I haven't seen my dad since January because of Covid
I'm struggling to recruit smokers/vapers for the study I'm currently working on
I'm having to work from home with no childcare around school hours because of Covid
I have court related stuff on Oct 9th
In reality, my children are far more important than my viva

I need some help/wisdom/guidance/virtual kick up the you-know-what

I've come too far to fail now, I know I'm looking at major re-writes (minor at best, but that's wishful thinking) because I didn't have a supervisor read my thesis (no-ones fault, they didn't have time, I was running out of time - it's complete but I suspect in need of major changes).

Picking up my thesis feel like such a mammoth task right now. I start to do it and 10 mins later I'm reading up on family law.

Any advice is really appreciated
Thank you

2nd Year PhD, Still haven't finalised a topic! need help

Post it notes! Seriously I had a whole wall filled with them, write a bit of knowledge on them, stick them up, rearrange them (theories/methods etc) and then ask questions of the all knowing wall

2nd Year PhD, Still haven't finalised a topic! need help


I'm guessing you kind of already have your topic, you've just not refined it? Even if what you have right now is broad, you still have your topic, you just have to pick out what is most important to your area. From all you reading is there nay crucial gaps? Anything that should be explored further? Any theory you think needs further study?
Start broad - what do you know about your area. What particularly interests you within that area? Then drill it down to what you don't know.
Another good way I used was to look at all the knowledge you have and ask it questions, you'll soon finalise your topic that way
Good luck

The horrible wait for the Viva, humorous musings

This doesn't need any answers, unless it's sympathy, as I'm aware I am wallowing in privileged self pity right now, but if I rant one more time to my partner about this I think she might make me sleep outside.

The wait for my Viva is crippling me. I submitted 2 months ago, I have no idea when my viva will be. I'm aware my internal is super busy (we work in the same department) so I can't really complain. I'm aware that with us all trying to learn how to teach in this new COVID world is going to take priority, I suspect my external is facing the same difficulties, so I can't complain. But my gosh it is crippling me. I check my emails so many times a day, I wake up at night with nightmares.

Given my tendencies to chronically over think things, here is a list of all the irrational nightmares I've had about this upcoming moment of doom, I share in the hopes that they make at least one person smile, or I find out I'm no the only person to have these random dreams.

1) I wake up and suddenly realise that my viva date went to my junk mail and my viva is in 20 minutes. In my panic I forget to put clothes on and turn my camera on to realise I am sitting stark naked in front of my examiners online

2) I go in with my thesis only to realise that my actual subject was Harry Potter, not smoking cessation, and I have to try and lie and relate my work to Harry Potter

3) I forget how to speak and somehow have learnt Russian and try to communicate via Russian (note, I do not speak Russian)

4) My dog turns out to be my external examiner and can speak (and is very critical)

5) I unwittingly have plagarised my entire thesis despite my work being the first of it's kind

6) My examiner is Voldemort (I need to not watch HP before bed, evidently)

7) I find out mid viva I was meant to send cheese to my examiners as a thank you, I fail due to this cheese error

8) I realise I sent my children's home-schooling work instead of my thesis, and then have to roll with it to not fail my Viva (I did check as soon as woke up after this dream, luckily I did not submit their work but my own)

9) My examiners ask me to walk a tight rope from my University building to prove I deserve the PhD

I hope I get a date soon because otherwise I may fall in to the pits of insanity, re-reading this list I feel I am partly there

Inferiority complex from friends and family

Quote From Mackem_Beefy:
May I ask if the other family member did their degree as a mature student or part-time while working? Did you?

I will concede that doing a degree part-time is much harder work when the student has other commitments. But holding it against you or saying you get it handed to you on a plate because you "tick a box" is a horrible thing to say.

Likewise, I was first in the family to go to University with concerns only being raised (as I explained) when I left a job to take up a PhD.


Hello. The other family member did the degree full time, as well as being a mother but as part of a family unit (she is two years younger than me), I did mine full time whilst working and a single parent. The other family member is lovely and see's that we both had different journey's - neither was harder or easier because those experiences are relative to our own circumstances. I suspect it was the Aunts (the person drawing the comparisons) way of justifying her treatment towards me and not her cousins wife (big family celebrations were held for the cousins wife's graduation). The inference was that because I was a single mother and gay, I therefor ticked a diversity quota that meant my achievements were handed to me as some form of positive discrimination.
I get you on the 'leaving the job', my father was horrified when he found out I'd given up my career to follow my original path!

Unsure about progression

Hello. I'm sorry you've had a tough time. I think I'd take a bit of time to work on yourself before applying again. Maybe counselling would help, or CBT to overcome those feelings you have. Obviously you already know that a PhD is a breeding ground for destroying your confidence and self belief, so it might be worth investing your energy in building a solid sense of self before applying to do a PhD again. One small, but strangely effective, thing I do is I look at myself int he mirror every night and I give myself 5 compliments. Some days it's simply 'you actually got out of bed and you managed to smile at yourself' others it's 'you absolutely smashed that recruitment expectation' but both are just as effective

PhD with a CFA level 3, distinction in masters and a 2:2 in undergraduate.


My University required a 1st class degree but I got a 2:1, I did however get a MSc distinction. I contact the supervisors of the funded post offered and arranged a chat with them. I explained during my degree I had given birth and had cancer, but in reality they weren't that bothered by my grade as my distinction at MSc showed I had the necessary skills.
I would contact them and explain that you have this distinction at MSc level, that you received a grade far lower than expected at degree level due to mitigating factors, however you have since learnt how to overcome barriers and work at your usual level

Inferiority complex from friends and family

Yeah I get this. I was the first in my family to get GCSE's, and education isn't really valued in my family. I stood out and not in a good way, if I said anything relating to my BSc I was told to stop showing off. Even when I posted my graduation photo's an aunt chastised me and told me I should do my Uni work for me, not for anyone else so why did I have to rub everyone's face in it like I was better. I stopped talking about anything to do with my studies, then another family member did a degree and I was constantly told it was more of an achievement than me getting a funded PhD because I'm a 'smart a*se' so it's easy, and that as a single parent who's gay I obviously get everything handed to me because I tick a box.

I had a lot of counselling to deal with my toxic family, and I learnt that it was all down to their own insecurity; me doing well wasn't something to celebrate or be proud of for them, but a personal insult. I now do not see many of my family except for large events, and sometimes they ask how my work is going ('so you're not even a Doctor yet? Was it really worth it?') and I just reply 'It's going really well, but we both know you're not interested in it and that's fine'.

On the flip side, dealing with people who dismiss everything I say came in really useful during the PhD process!

PostgraduateForum - new site feedback

How can we search on this forum ?


Hello, I'm so sorry you are going through this, it must be incredibly stressful for you. I think I know the institution (there was something int he media). You have options to take a break in learning, which isn't ideal due to funding. What I would suggest is having a formal meeting to discuss and create a plan of action. It is not uncommon to find the second year really hard and demotivating' and that's without a scandal, a pandemic, health problems and financial worries.
I know you rely on the teaching, but maybe seek out RA opportunities (you can sometimes get one day a week positions) or join Uni temps so your work outside of the PhD is independent of your supervisor.
If things don't improve after this meeting, maybe seek out your PGR lead and have a more formal meeting. They do have a duty of care to protect you. I really hope things improve

De-motivated and uninterested

It's completely normal. I very nearly quit during my second year. For me, the very sense i could quit gave me a sense of control that helped fuel motivation. I also took about 3 weeks off from my PhD (unofficially) and just gave myself head space. As the constant panic of 'I'e not done enough' made me mentally unable to actually work on it. taking that break really helped.

Anyone know how examiners read a thesis?

Hello, it may vary depending on discipline, but the overall advice is they can focus on absolutely everything. It also depends on the examiner's own interests and expertise. For example, I know I'm likely to be questioned on my epistemology/ontology. You need to clearly explained what you did, why you did it, how you did it, and what you found/what this means. I started by writing everything - I couldn't submit it as it would have been enough content for 2 thesis! I then went through and made it concise and clear. I then removed bits I felt were too explanatory and not adding to the thesis.

Physics PhD with Masters Distinction but 2.2 Bachelors?

Hello. Congratulations on your predicted distinction, that's a massive achievement.
I got a 2:1, predicted a 1st but sometimes life throws curve balls and this does affect your education. The University I'm doing my PhD at specify a 1st class honours and a distinction at MSc (this one I did achieve). However, I got an interview for a funded scholarship by emailing the leads directly and asking more about their previous work. I got an invite to sit in on a lecture, a chance to have a look at their offices and got an interview - now I've just submitted.
You can pick up work at your institution, but I started a part time business from my old job (completely opposite to my PhD) to make ends meet, so if I can do it as a single mother of two, you can do it! It's frightening, but it will be worth it in the long term.
Email those you want to work with, ask for opportunities. If they ask about your 2:2 be honest, you had a lot going on and were young, now you're more mature and you learnt from those times, so any curve balls will not knock your performance henceforth.

Good luck

Viva anxiety / traumatic journey (TW mental health) - help needed

Thank you for your reply. I don't have a Viva date, I submitted early July and was told they had found a chair last week but no communication on dates yet. Part of me knows this is entirely normal, the other part is thinking 'have I accidentally plagiarized my thesis without realizing?' or 'Are they holding back on dates because they are currently speaking with the PGR lead about how to fail me?'

For me, the fact they didn't seem to think I would submit was a real driving force, I'm stubborn so it was a kind of 'I'll submit this thesis even if it takes my last working neuron'.

I also don't understand the etiquette very well, like can I email them for an update? Should I be chasing them for a date? Should I contact anyone in particular?

Viva anxiety / traumatic journey (TW mental health) - help needed

Bit of a story, but start of my PhD I was a star. Excelled perfectly well. Then I was the victim of a horrific crime, I ended up leaving my home with nothing but my children and our passports and starting again. I had to take on work, attend court dates and deal with the trauma of everything, my work suffered, my Uni had very little support and it felt like everyone gave up on me. My second year review went badly, I was put on a referral and marked on every contact as under performing. No support from my Uni - although my supervisors were (and are) lovely people - their support was great.
I pretty much got the impression no-one expected me to submit, but I have. I did 3 independent studies, I wrote it all up. My supervisors checked individual chapters, but due to unforeseen circumstances none of them were able to read the entire thesis and I was advised to submit as it was (2 months before I was due to submit).
I've never had a mock viva, I've never really spoken about a Viva apart from agreeing to an external examiner. My supervisor is now back form leave and has had to arrange an independent chair as it's a virtual Viva due to COVID. She sent me a really lovely email telling me not to panic and that it was normal to feel anxious.
Thing is no-one has said to me, not even once, if it's a good thesis, or a bad thesis. No ones said they'll think I'll pass, or fail.
I'm dyslexic, but couldn't afford the proof reading costs, so despite grammarly pro, I suspect I'll have loads of typo's.
I know they have an independent chair assigned, but I've heard nothing about dates.
I'm an absolute wreck, I can't sleep, my hearts racing, I feel on the verge of a panic attack and can't breathe. Any advice?